OnLive will have to contend with a little more than just leery onlookers and lack of optimum internet infrastructure in a couple of months' time. Streaming games service Gaikai is now feature complete and due for a December, 2011 launch, according to the company's co-founder and CEO David Perry. While Gaikai can look ahead to the same challenges as its better-known and more experienced rival, its approach to cloud gaming is markedly different.
Gaikai will stream subscription-free game demos to Flash-capable web browsers. This is how the company describes the service on its website: “Just like publishers and developers, retailers pay by the minute for the time that games are streamed on their sites. Once the user finishes playing, they are directed to your store -- still high on the excitement of the demo -- to complete the sale. Giving visitors the chance to try games before they buy can help them overcome hestiation and can faciliate impulse buys.”
So it isn't really a direct rival to OnLive, at least not until it starts streaming full games, but things could change.
Cloud gaming startup OnLive has been vacillating on its monthly subscription fee from its very inception. While it initially set out to charge $14.95 per month for the streaming games service, it not only lowered the monthly fee to $4.95 just before launch, but also offered a free one year subscription to early adopters – those who signed up during the service's inaugural month. But the company seems to have finally found a solution to its pricing conundrum.
“Although we wish we could have confirmed no monthly fee from the get-go, pioneering a major new video game paradigm is hard: we had to first grow to a large base of regular users before we could understand usage patterns and operating cost,” Perlman wrote in a blog post.
“Now that we’ve reached that stage, we can confidently say a monthly fee is not needed, which deserves a double WOOT! WOOT!”
OnLive's cloud-based gaming service launched in June with Wi-Fi support conspicuously missing from its armory. While OnLive's lack of Wi-Fi support was never really a pressing concern for the vast majority of the world's population, it did matter to both the service's early adopters and detractors, with some admittedly ardent fans even stooping to such abject lows as building Ethernet loopback adapters to pass off their Wi-Fi connection as a wired one.